Vangelis – Spiral (1977)

FrontCover1Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022), known professionally as was a Greek musician and composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music.

He was best known for his Academy Award-winning score to Chariots of Fire (1981), as well as for composing scores to the films Blade Runner (1982), Missing (1982), Antarctica (1983), The Bounty (1984), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), and Alexander (2004), and for the use of his music in the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.

Aphrodite's Child

Vangelis began his career working with several pop bands of the 1960s such as The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child, with the latter’s album 666 (1972) going on to be recognized as a progressive-psychedelic rock classic. Throughout the 1970s, Vangelis composed scores for several animal documentaries, including L’Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête sauvage, and Opéra sauvage; the success of these scores brought him into the film scoring mainstream. In 1975 he set up his new 16-track studio, Nemo Studios in London, which he named his “laboratory”, releasing many solo albums including Heaven and Hell and China among others. In the early 1980s, Vangelis formed a musical partnership with Jon Anderson, the lead singer of progressive rock band Yes, and the duo released several albums together as Jon & Vangelis; he had previously joined Yes as their keyboard player, but left the group before recording any material with them.

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In 1980, he composed the score for the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The soundtrack’s single, the film’s theme, also reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and was used as the background music at the London 2012 Olympics winners’ medal presentation ceremonies. He also composed the official anthem of the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Korea and Japan. In his last twenty years he collaborated with NASA and ESA on music projects Mythodea, Rosetta and Juno to Jupiter, which was his last studio album.

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Having had a career in music spanning over 50 years and having composed and performed more than 50 albums, Vangelis is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.

Vangelis died on 17 May 2022, aged 79, at a hospital in Paris due to heart failure while receiving treatment for COVID-19. (wikipedia)

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Spiral is a studio album by the Greek electronic composer Vangelis, released in December 1977. It was the third album produced by Vangelis in Nemo Studios, London, which was his creative base until the late 1980s. For the track “To the Unknown Man” Vangelis received the Midem International Instrumental award in 1978.

It is a concept album, thematically inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. On the front cover is cited Tao Te Ching: “Going on means going far – Going far means returning”, while the sleeve notes state that the track “Dervish D” is “inspired by the Dervish dancer who by his whirling realises the spiralling of the universe”.

It was a less known and acclaimed album than the two which preceded in the 1970s, Heaven and Hell (1975) and Albedo 0.39 (1976).

The album reached #38 on the Dutch album charts in 1978.

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In 2011, the album was included, along with Heaven and Hell and Albedo 0.39, in a 3-CD box set series “Original Album Classics” by Sony, RCA and Legacy Recordings. In 2013, the album was released in a remastered and reissued digipak edition by Esoteric Recordings. It includes a bonus track, previously never issued on CD, “To The Unknown Man (II)”, which was released as a B-side of the single “To the Unknown Man” in 1977.

The album is entirely instrumental, apart from Vangelis’ processed vocals on “Ballad”. Vangelis plays synthesizer, sequencers, electric piano, electronic organ, harmonica, brass, timpani, percussion. It is the first album on which Vangelis used the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, on which he would come to rely heavily in subsequent work, and is the most sequencer-based album of his career.

Henri Stirk from Background Magazine rated the 2013 edition by Esoteric Recordings 4/5 stars.

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In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978.In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978. (www.nemostudios.co.uk)

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As far as Vangelis’ early work is concerned (pertaining to the five years of his solo career), Spiral stands up quite well, although it’s almost always regarded as an inessential effort. Although the structures and the overall dynamics of the pieces are less complicated and less sophisticated, Spiral’s keyboard utilization is still extremely effectual, even if it does take awhile to get off the ground. The five tracks that make up the album aren’t as atmospheric or as elaborately shifting as 1975’s Heaven and Hell or 1976’s Albedo 0.39, but his musical movement does seem to transgress toward full, complete soundscapes, especially in “To the Unknown Man,” the album’s best example of Vangelis’ artistry. The album is based on a dancer’s appreciation of the universe and how it spirals into infinity, a concept which came to him through his own pirouettes. Both “Spiral” and “Ballad” touch ever so lightly on melody, appropriately relating to the album’s theme, while the lengthy “3+3” begins to unveil Vangelis’ creativity and sense of electronic exploration. After Spiral, Vangelis’ style changed somewhat, with more of a smoother, more melodic approach to the synthesizer, implemented to create a closer relationship between classical and electronic music. Albums such as Beauborg and China lay claim to this, also employing stronger ties between the theme and the music, while 1981’s Chariots of Fire has him merging the two styles completely. (by Mike DeGagne)

I can´t agree with Mike DeGagne:

An often overlooked masterpiece that all of his fans should listen to. (Jake Roberts)

Or: A fascinating journey through the possibilities of electronic music !

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Personnel:
Vangelis (synthesizer, keyboards and other instruments)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Spiral 6:55
02. Ballad 8:27
03. Dervish D 5:21
04. To The Unknown Man 9:01
05. 3+3 9:43
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06. To the Unknown Man (Part Two) 2.55

Music composed by Vangelis

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More from Vangelis:
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